The rise of the web has demolished many barriers to international expansion,introducing limitless opportunities for global growth of your business. As you prepare to expand internationally, it's important to keep your brand at the center of the plan.
Your brand is your most precious asset
Think of your organization as a person, and your brand is its personality. It’s your promise to your customers about your business, services or products. People are perturbed if we – as people – act out of character. Your biggest brand advocates will feel the same if your brand changes from what is familiar and important to them.
Let’s start at the very beginning
It's important to keep your brand’s values and dignity intact despite the growth that it achieves.
Work out precisely what you did right to begin with:
- What’s so amazing about your brand that's leading to global growth?
- What exactly makes your brand stand out?
- What makes your customers choose and stay loyal to you?
- What does choosing you say to them about themselves?
- What are their emotional associations and their experience as they interact with you?
- What are your brand values, your vision and mission?
So how do you achieve international expansion while keeping a steadfast grip on all these vital brand assets?
Use how you grew your brand and your existing business as a blueprint for how you move forward in global markets. As you push into new markets, ask yourself – does this action or that communication support your intrinsic brand experience? Even if your focus starts with performance marketing, this is a key time to make sure that every single touchpoint builds your brand.
One size does not fit all
Not every country will offer you the same fit.
Get to understand cultural aspects of the new market – its trends, what its consumers value and how they make purchasing decisions. Market Finder can help you pinpoint new markets, overcome language and location barriers, and give an insight into the legal and regulatory requirements.
If you’re a purely online business, remember too, that an intangible sales model may thrive in some markets more than others. Understand that it can be dangerous to make assumptions. For example, while Japan may be perceived as the home of all things digital, it’s actually a country in which personal relationships have a high cultural value, and selling through local partners may be a quicker route to success.
Build on your brand as you expand
Once you’ve found a market that’s a good fit, review every aspect of your brand, logo, strapline and product names for wording, symbols or colors that could be misunderstood or cause offence. Localize any assets to become culturally appropriate. Could the branding strategies that you used to capture your initial audience be scaled to work in your new market?
Finally, if dealing with third parties – agencies, distributors, franchisees, wholesalers – they, too, need to understand your brand and how this drives. They also need to have clarity on how you want your product, quality control and customer service to be delivered.
As the online world continues to level the global playing field, building your brand from local boutique to international behemoth is a realistic goal.
Find foreign markets that fit who you are and what you offer. Protect, project and build on your brand as you position yourself in a way that resonates with your new potential customers. That way, wherever you are, your brand will be speaking your language.